ADASS President, Julie Ogley, responding to the increasing numbers of people dying in care homes and in their own homes, has called on the Government to rebalance its approach to Covid-19 and to properly prioritise adult social care:
We are extremely concerned and distressed by growing reports of the numbers of people who are dying in care homes and in their own homes, and amongst family carers and our colleagues working in social care across the country. Never before has social care been so obviously essential to the fabric of our lives, and while we focus on those infected by and dying of the virus, there are equally those with unmet needs for care and support who are suffering as a result.
We want to see a significant rebalancing of the Government’s approach to Covid-19. There are two fronts in our response to Covid-19; social care colleagues and family carers are the first line of defence – protecting our communities, at huge risk to their own health and shielding the NHS from catastrophic demand that would overwhelm it. Their work is so often overlooked, yet they are giving so much for all of us and the Government must give them the tools they need to do their vital work. There are key risks of more deaths amongst those supported by social care than people in hospital.
So we ask that government gives social care the tools that it needs to do the job. It must:
- Ensure routine recognition of social care and its centrality to the Covid-19 response in every statement, picture and response from Government;
- Address continuing shortages in PPE and learn the lessons of the PPE roll-out;
- Clearly set out what support is available to care homes and home care and ensure that primary and community services do not withdraw vital support;
- Accelerate testing;
- Focus on safe hospital discharge, not just rapid hospital discharge, to safe places and with honest information to carers and providers, and respect their refusal to accept new people if it threatens the lives of those they already care for;
- Enhance and enable local systems to continue to identify deaths and outbreaks of coronavirus in care homes and at home and, with CQC, to prioritise basic safety monitoring;
- Respect that the Government has given councils responsibilities for service continuity and so safeguarding people needing care and support. People working locally know their responsibilities and communities better than Whitehall. The Government must support and not undermine local systems that are working well;
- Focus on everyone needing care and support – not only older people;
- Fund social care to deliver in the pandemic to recruit and retain staff and to deal with additional needs arising in the community.
Those of us who rely on social care for ourselves or our families, care providers, family carers and 1.5 million people working in social care need to see clear evidence that they are being prioritised.